Category Archives: Benn and Morgan workshop

Making Marks and Processing

     I spent some time visiting this week with art friends. On Tuesday , I met a friend Elizabeth for coffee and shared what I had learned at the Barn workshop. She is so enthusiastic and it’s nice to be able to share with her. And sharing with her helped me to clarify what I had learned and what techniques I really didn’t want to focus on. I came home and looked through my box of supplies and you know what tools I liked the best?

Simple things: a credit card for scraping thickened dyes on, foam rollers I cut into, a dishpan scrubber, the cheapo one dollar paintbrush with some bristles chopped off…..

 A spreader with great edges

A piece of plexi-glass with duct tape on it. I used it for mono-printing.

a piece of a plastic doormat
foam rollers


a needle nose bottle with a plastic tip
     I found I liked the simple things you can find at your local hardware store or scrounge from a workbench. 
     I spent some more time sorting fabric and completing my inventory for fabric dyeing this week. And beginning to pack for Vermont. I leave next Wednesday and I am trying to be reasonable with what I really want to accomplish this summer. Also, I do this after every workshop. Just kind of stop and ramble around until I might process what I have learned. Maybe it’s being overstimulated. Don’t know but I am not fighting it this time. Some hand stitching usually moves me on. 
     Talk about being overstimulated-had lunch with the wonderful Nellie and her niece Diane. More about that later.
     Be creative, my friends!

Finally, the Fabrics

     I kept waiting for a brighter day to take pictures of my fabrics I made last week but the rain just kept coming. So last night, in some very bad lighting, I took pictures just so I could remember all the processes we covered.

     Some are really bad and not to be shown. I took it one layer too far or some of the colors bled into the other areas… but the fun of splashing all that color over a white piece of fabric was amazing. So here we go. I used a yard of fabric for each piece so that is a lot of dye and print paste.

 Soy wax resist using a large paint brush on cotton. The small tools to apply wax were in big demand so I went big. I was worried about washing it out when I had so much soy on there but it was easy after I soaked it in hot water.

More soy wax resist on linen. I ended up loving working on linen as it accepts the dye so well and wished I would have brought more of it.

Masking tape on a silk screen and then print paste with dyes applied through it . The big squeeze bottles full of color were so much fun. I felt like a kid in  the candy shop and I had been given ten bucks instead of a quarter to spend.

Dry brushing with the liquid dyes.

 Monoprinting on one of my small plexiglass pieces I brought.  This blue piece took me a long time and then I don’t enjoy the blue color.

 The orange piece above is just trying out different things to obtain texture.

This is a section of a large piece of fabric that I worked on for a few days waiting and batching in between processes. And then trying different marks on different areas. I think it has about five layers on it and I even worked it from the back. I was looking to obtain really saturated colors and now I know how. You can see from the close up how much bleed I was getting from the masking tape. I wouldn’t do such a rigid thing next time. I might go back to it and make the neon yellow lines a different color. Or cut it up and use it for something else. (But that’s the whole point of trying to make compositional cloth-it is the composition.)

It was very freeing to know that every fabric can be fixed WITH A BUCKET OF BLACK. And if you go into surface design with that approach, you smile a whole lot more when you pull your piece out of the final rinse and you don’t like it. I gave myself permission to be the newbie and just learn the techniques this time.

Two of the many things I will forever remember from Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan:

1. Stitch alone cannot fix a bad composition.
2. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.” I love this phrase.

So back to work I am , stitching on a new piece and enjoying their phrases as I  try to make sense out of a piece I need to finish! They were great teachers and if you ever have a chance to take a class from them, sell a sewing machine if you need to and go.

Have a good weekend. I hope to enjoy some sun , soccer and the garden.

Be creative, my friends!

     After spending the week at the Barn, I keep thinking about all the things I learned there and a few things really need to be written down tonight in my journal. While everything is still fresh. So instead of words tonight , I will give you some pictures from the workshop.

Art outside at the Barn

Finally some sunshine on Friday

The Barn 

Collection of baskets 

starting to hang up the fabrics at the end of the week

     I didn’t do  a great job of photographing fabrics so will have to go back and label some of my pieces. It was hard to stop and take pictures with wet hands! Great teachers, great place to make art and be energized and be fed amazing food by the wonderful Margaret Wolf.

     Be creative, my friends!

A Class at the Barn

     What a great week at the Barn with fiber artists Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan. First of all, I want to tell you what excellent teachers these two are. Their enthusiasm for surface design and teaching skills  are truly gifts. I went with really no idea of how the class would be structured and what we would accomplish. Each morning a design technique was covered and generally in the afternoon and evening, we would work away or should I say play away.

     The wet studio is amazing. Large sinks, large print tables and we each had our own space-wet and dry with unlimited access to all the supplies.

     We learned about print paste, screen printing with the dyes, using unlimited amount of mark making tools, de-constructed screen printing, thermofax screens, freezer paper stencils, paper lamination, monoprinting, soy wax and lots of other things…So many techniques that I was overwhelmed and didn’t end up trying two of them.

     Some were old hands at the techniques and came for more of the design aspect of creating a compositional cloth and others like me were new to the techniques. There were several very talented artists. And it was a joy to watch them work. All of us played very hard and really didn’t let the weather hinder us. It rained the entire week so we couldn’t get our screens to dry for de-constructed printing. Getting things to dry and not bleed was a challenge as well with the high humidity.

     I met new friends from Canada and Australia. And got to spend time with an old friend . Dorothy Caldwell was in the upstairs studio with a full studio and we had 21 people in class. It was a busy place but never felt crowded.

   More tomorrow.

Be creative, my friends.


Sneak Peek: Day 3

     We stayed for a lecture last night so ran late… I feel like day #3 was kind of the crossroads for me. I am figuring what techniques I may want to add to what I am doing and what I just don’t like.

 And sometimes, it is just what you have the capability to do at home versus the perfect studio which you have here at the Barn. Wet studio that is or having a thermofax machine or investing in lots of mediums. I need to think about it more. But now must run to wash out more fabrics for the next processes.


     I am leaving at 4 tonight to travel to a local museum for an art exhibition. Should be fun. Really wish it would stop raining.

     Be creative, my friends.

Sneak Peak Day #2

     I am have come to the conclusion early in the week: compositional cloth takes a long time to produce. We were given instruction early in the week that mastery of any technique or process can take 10,000 hours. After my past few years of working hard at home and two days into surface design( yes , you may smile! ),  I absolutely believe that. And after all the layering of these pieces we are doing day after day this week, it may not even turn out. But the amount of knowledge we are learning each day=one semester at any college. Any college. My head is spinning. I didn’t get to try two of the techniques today but hope to catch up tomorrow.

    Today was really cold and rainy which made for awful batching and drying of our fabrics. So now they are wrapped in plastic and being kept warm in an electric blanket.

     Look at that – I am not even working in a grid.  Amazing and kind of freeing.

     Be creative, my friends!  Very excited and very tired….I will be washing fabric in my sleep.

Sneak Peak Day #1

     Oh so very tired after starting at 8:30 and going until 8 at night at the Barn workshop.

     Learning how to print with a silkscreen and print paste.

     And do an unlimited amount of things which I am way too tired to explain. 41 people here all working hard together to make beautiful art. With that I will have a glass of wine and fall fast asleep with sweet dreams of more to come tomorrow.

    Be creative, my friends.